This purpose of this page is to record the radio broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teachings on the biblical principle of separation of church and state. One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).
Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).
Equality Act Creates LGBT Rights Everywhere! (102315)(Revealed: LGBT Nuclear Bomb Against Churches – Will apply to state churches, such as incorporated 501c3 churches and corporation sole 508 churches, only. The article below explains how this applies to state churches, but not to New Testament churches.)
The principles in the article below can be applied to the issue of what a church should do if required by civil law to officiate over the impossible – the marriage of people of the same sex.
I. Introduction (includes the question to be answered)
II. The two types of churches in America III. The answer to the question for a state church
IV. The answer to the question for a New Testament church
Another storm is brewing over the spiritual foundations of America. That storm may with full force strike our religious edifices at any time. The reaction of preachers to this threatened destruction of the recognition – at least as to some vital matters – of religious liberty, freedom of speech, press, association, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances – by the federal and state governments in America is very revealing as to the spiritual condition of America’s “Bible-believing” churches and pastors.
One should understand that Christ, not civil government, has set the believer free, no matter what the civil government does. A civil government can choose to recognize the freedom God has given all who repent of sin and trust Jesus Christ as their savior from their sin, but civil government cannot take away that liberty, even should the civil government take the temporal physical life of believers for following Christ (See “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself” for more information on true life and true liberty).
This article answers this question:
What should a church and a preacher do (1) now, (2) when the storm hits and the civil law either forbids him to preach on something included within the counsel of God, or (3) when the civil law is unclear as to the application of a law as against preaching on a biblically covered topic?
According to the Bible, the answer to the question depends upon whether the church involved is a state church or a New Testament church. The pastor of a state church should honor his sovereign state as to certain matters to which the church has agreed when incorporating and getting Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) (“501c3”) status. The pastor of a New Testament church is under God only and must honor his only Sovereign, the Lord Jesus Christ and His rules laid down in His Holy Word.
New Testament believers including pastors should be ideal citizens (in God’s eyes) of the earthly state they reside in. They should honor those laws which have to do with the treatment of their fellow man as reflected in God’s Word (See, e.g. Matthew 5:38-48; Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:9-21, 13:8-14; 1 Peter 2:12-20, 4:12-19; 2 Peter 1:3-10); but when the state exceeds its God-given jurisdiction and delves into matters concerning man’s relationship and duties toward God and toward his fellow man as directed by God, they should “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 and the whole book of Acts). No one is exempt from being punished under the criminal laws of their earthly government, whether those laws fall within the God-given jurisdiction of the state or not. (See the article “American Abuse of Romans 13:1-2 and Related Verses” for an in depth study of verses taken out of context to support subjection to the state beyond that desired by God).
Churches in America are free to operate as either state churches or New Testament churches. A state church has legal status. A state church is a legal entity. A state church chose to be a state incorporated and usually 501c3 or 508 church and therefore agreed to the accompanying rules and procedures. (See Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Statuswhich proves that 508 “tax exempt” churches are subject to the same rules as a 501c3 church.) Those rules and procedures are not hidden, but are clearly stated in the law of the state of incorporation and the Internal Revenue Code. As the old adage goes, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
This article will first describe the two types of churches in America. Then, the article will answer the question presented above for the state church. Finally, the article will answer the question as to the New Testament church.
II. The two types of churches in America
State churches and New Testament churches are distinct. The state church is a legal entity. A legal entity is an entity which can sue or be sued and act legally. Examples of legal entities are corporations, corporations sole, unincorporated associations, business trusts, charitable trusts and certain other trusts. The ordinary Bible trust is not a legal entity, nor does it render a church which places tithes, offerings and gifts in the Bible trust estate a legal entity. Thus, when a church incorporates (sole or aggregate), she becomes a legal entity. An incorporated church is a private, as opposed to a public, corporation (to gain a complete understanding of church incorporation, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), and related issues, go to Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities?. For proof that church corporation sole status is nothing more than non-profit corporation status see Critique of ‘Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole’ Website. For an example of one trust scheme which renders a church a legal entity, see Ecclesiastical Law Center Exposed.
As a private corporation, an incorporated church is subject to the law of incorporation since the state, through its laws, provides the manner and means and legalities of incorporation. The corporate part of a church is an “artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.” The law is clear that the sovereign of the incorporated church is the state creator of the corporation and the law makes clear that an incorporated church is a creature of the state. The law is clear as to the definition, requirements, organization and procedures for the corporation, including the corporate church.
Through incorporation, state law creates several contracts: contracts between the corporation and the state, between the corporation and the members, between the members themselves, and between the members and the state of incorporation. Problems can be taken to the sovereign state for resolution. Resolution of those problems by the state, which is the controlling party to the contracts created by incorporation, will exclude God and His principles entirely. Should a state church dispute this observation, let that church try to take a Bible or biblical principles into the courtroom when a matter involving that church goes to a court of law. Of course, the courts have said that they will not interfere with ecclesiastical matters; but the state ultimately determines what is ecclesiastical and what is not.
The state church has lost much of her First Amendment protection by incorporating. Unlike the New Testament church which is subject solely to the First Amendment and retains all her First Amendment protections from encroachment by the state, the state church now falls under the “Fourteenth Amendment” due process and equal protection provisions and is also subject to attack by individual church members, people outside the church, as well as the state itself.
Almost all corporate churches are also 501c3 churches. As such, those churches agree to five rules, four of which have been legislatively added since the statute was enacted and one of which, “the public policy” rule, was added by the Internal Revenue Service and upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Bob Jones University, 461 U.S. 574 (1983)(See God Betrayed for a full analysis of this case and its possible application to churches). A pastor and church should be aware that those rules were enacted unilaterally by the civil government without any input from churches. Therefore, other rules may, in the future, be added by the civil government through the legislative process and by the Internal Revenue Service.
Pastors of state churches are fearful that their sovereign state will come against them for violating the rules of 501(c)(3). For example, most state preachers will not preach that a particular candidate for public office is evil or good, as the case may be; and many pastors fear that they will violate “fundamental public policy” should they preach on certain biblical subjects such as sodomy (See, e.g., the article, “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme” for a more thorough analysis of the rules, etc. to which a church submits when she gets 501c3 status). Whether the state comes against a 501(c)(3) church or not, the church is in violation of God’s directive for churches – that churches have no authority over them other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
A New Testament church is a spiritual entity only. She is not a legal entity in any way. She has not compromised her First Amendment protections in any way. More importantly, she is under God only. Her allegiance is to God only. Of course, such an allegiance means that she will be an asset to individuals, families, and the state (regardless of whether the state realizes this or not and regardless of whether the state persecutes her or not). She has entered into no agreement with the state and the state has no jurisdiction over her. Christ is her creator, builder, and head (Matthew 16:28; Acts 4:7-11). She, unlike a state church, is in a position to love God supremely (see the article, “The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls”). She owns no property (see the article, “Analysis of another reason for church corporate status: to hold property,” in order to understand how a church in American can, under both civil law and biblical precept, meet on property without owning it; see also, the other articles under the topic at left, “Reasons given for incorporating a church”).
III. The answer to the question for a state church
If the church is a state church and if the law is clear, the preacher and church should obey the law. If the law is unclear, the pastor can preach on the subject and wait to see if he and/or his church is charged with violating the law or if the state will act to remove the church tax exempt status. Many times, the pastor chooses to refrain from preaching on a subject or issue which he fears may violate man’s law even though the subject or issue is clearly included in the “whole counsel of God.” Should a state church pastor choose to preach on the matter, the state may come against him; and the state, through a state agency—usually the Internal Revenue Service—or state court will decide the issue. If an agency rules against a church in such a case, the church can appeal to the appropriate court. Whatever the decision of the highest court which hears the issue, the church and pastor are bound by both the state and the Lord to follow the ruling of that court. The Lord makes clear in His Word that it is a great wickedness or iniquity for a church to submit to any authority other than Himself; but should a church do so, that church has an obligation under God to honor the ruling of the state since, as has been stated, the church voluntarily acquired the status and the baggage that accompanied it. The state church is in a catch-22 situation.
IV. The answer to the question for a New Testament church
On the other hand, if the church is not a state church (that is, if the church has no legal status), then the pastor and church should obey the will of the Lord, as revealed in His Word. Since the church has no legal status, the state cannot proceed against the church. No contract or agreement with the state exists. The church is under God only. The pastor of such a church can preach on the “whole counsel of God,” thereby pleasing the Lord.
Remember, the pastor of a state church displeases God by becoming a state church; and he also grieves the Lord by violating the rules of the earthly sovereign of the state church he pastors. This is not true for a New Testament church because that church still pleases the Lord in this matter of separation of church and state; that church will be under God only and the pastor will preach whatever the Holy Spirit and the Word of God lead him to preach. Should the state become tyrannical and try to assert unauthorized jurisdiction over him and/or the members of church he pastors, his response will be like the Spirit filled response of believers to the authorities who had imprisoned them for healing and speaking in the name of Jesus as recorded in Acts 4:24-30:
“And … they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.”
No matter what the state does to a pastor or members of a New Testament church, the state cannot destroy such a church (See the article, “An Abridged History of the First Amendment” for more understanding about this matter).
True believers and churches have, since the inception of the church, “obeyed God rather than man.” The apostles and Christians of the New Testament did, the Christians and martyrs before the marriage of church and state in the early fourth century did; true believers including millions of martyrs after the marriage of church and state did; true believers to this day in countries such as China, Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afganistan, etc. are continuing this tradition; but sadly, most “Christians” in America do not.
It seems a paradox that in America—where the law provides for freedom of religion and where churches may choose to operate under God without any persecution whatsoever—churches and Christians voluntarily place themselves under a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ whereas true believers down through the ages, and to this very day, who were and are persecuted by the state, by the state in conjunction with the established church or religion, or by the established church or religion have chosen to remain under God only in spite of persecution.
Those heroes of the faith showed and continue to show the power of God to the world around them, and as a result, the world was and is influenced and changed by their spiritual actions which are motivated by their love for the Lord and not by worldly ambition, force, greed, selfishness, and sinful pleasure:
“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
Reliable sources such as The Voice of the Martyrs report that the underground church in China has as many as 100,000,000 members. Chinese citizens—as did the Roman soldiers who threw down their weapons, converted on the spot and walked into the coliseum to be torn asunder by wild beasts, along with the Christians whose power they witnessed—show forth the power of God. Likewise do those North Korean refugees in China who are saved and return to Korea to witness to their friends and loved ones in North Korea in the face of almost certain death.
What about churches in America? As a percentage, good churches are a small fraction of the total number of churches in America. Therefore, the author is very thankful to be a member of a good Bible believing and preaching church. However, American churches have become, for the most part, impotent, heretical and apostate and are powerless in the spiritual warfare which Christians are called to fight. Modern American Christians, in the main, have no spiritual knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. They are not “enduring hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). They are not fighting the spiritual warfare “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Epesians 6:12). They are “[entangling] themselves with the affairs of this world” and, as a result, God, who has chosen him to be a soldier, is not pleased (1 Timothy 2:4). “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13).
Churches under Christ Ministry of Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo, Texas. A Christian Lawyer explains how a church in America can remain under the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only. "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1.22).